Color has a significant role in our lives.
Colors are amazing and give so much meaning to our everyday life. Without them, life, would be boring and dull. They can affect all of our senses, and our emotional world! Color can awaken memories, feelings good or bad and can make us happy or miserable at the same time.
Have you ever imagined how color affects color blind people?
Color blind people are not able to see specific color or any colors at all. There are different types and causes of color blindness. For the vast majority of people with deficient color vision, this condition is genetic and is inherited from their mother, although some people become color blind as a result of other disease or medication. I was intrigued by this matter, during these Christmas holidays, when a friend of mine, confessed he is color blind! All of a sudden my shock turned into curiosity – in a good sense – and I wanted to look more into it. Being a photographer this gave me a subject to work on.
Traditionally, Christmas is all about Green Christmas trees decorated with different color ornaments, red, gold, silver and blue. So how do color blind people see all these? The most common type of color blindness that affects people relates to green and red color. I am giving you a brief explanation below for the color blindness types and further down some pictures as seen by color blind people.
I am quoting below a brief explanation, as given by the National Eye Institute, for the different types of color blindness followed by some pictures to illustrate how color blind people perceive an image
Red-Green Color Blindness
The most common types of hereditary color blindness are due to the loss or limited function of red cone (known as protan) or green cone (deutran) photopigments. This kind of color blindness is commonly referred to as red-green color blindness.
- Protanomaly: In males with protanomaly, the red cone photopigment is abnormal. Red, orange, and yellow appear greener and colors are not as bright. This condition is mild and doesn’t usually interfere with daily living. Protanomaly is an X-linked disorder estimated to affect 1 percent of males.
- Protanopia: In males with protanopia, there are no working red cone cells. Red appears as black. Certain shades of orange, yellow, and green all appear as yellow. Protanopia is an X-linked disorder that is estimated to affect 1 percent of males.
- Deuteranomaly: In males with deuteranomaly, the green cone photopigment is abnormal. Yellow and green appear redder and it is difficult to tell violet from blue. This condition is mild and doesn’t interfere with daily living. Deuteranomaly is the most common form of color blindness and is an X-linked disorder affecting 5 percent of males.
- Deuteranopia: In males with deuteranopia, there are no working green cone cells. They tend to see reds as brownish-yellow and greens as beige. Deuteranopia is an X-linked disorder that affects about 1 percent of males.
Blue-Yellow Color Blindness
Blue-yellow color blindness is rarer than red-green color blindness. Blue-cone (tritan) photopigments are either missing or have limited function.
- Tritanomaly: People with tritanomaly have functionally limited blue cone cells. Blue appears greener and it can be difficult to tell yellow and red from pink. Tritanomaly is extremely rare. It is an autosomal dominant disorder affecting males and females equally.
- Tritanopia: People with tritanopia, also known as blue-yellow color blindness, lack blue cone cells. Blue appears green and yellow appears violet or light grey. Tritanopia is an extremely rare autosomal recessive disorder affecting males and females equally.
Complete color blindness
People with complete color blindness (monochromacy) don’t experience color at all and the clearness of their vision (visual acuity) may also be affected.
There are two types of monochromacy:
- Cone monochromacy: This rare form of color blindness results from a failure of two of the three cone cell photopigments to work. There is red cone monochromacy, green cone monochromacy, and blue cone monochromacy. People with cone monochromacy have trouble distinguishing colors because the brain needs to compare the signals from different types of cones in order to see color. When only one type of cone works, this comparison isn’t possible. People with blue cone monochromacy, may also have reduced visual acuity, near-sightedness, and uncontrollable eye movements, a condition known as nystagmus. Cone monochromacy is an autosomal recessive disorder.
- Rod monochromacy or achromatopsia: This type of monochromacy is rare and is the most severe form of color blindness. It is present at birth. None of the cone cells have functional photopigments. Lacking all cone vision, people with rod monochromacy see the world in black, white, and gray. And since rods respond to dim light, people with rod monochromacy tend to be photophobic – very uncomfortable in bright environments. They also experience nystagmus. Rod monochromacy is an autosomal recessive disorder.
Photos in different views
Each photo below has 9 versions:
- Normal Vision
- Protanomaly – Weak Red
- Deuteranomaly – Weak Green
- Tritanomaly – Weak Blue-Yellow
- Protanopia – Red Color Blind
- Deuteranopia – Green Color Blind
- Tritanopia – Blue-Yellow Color Blind
- Monochromacy/Achromatopsia – Full Color Blind
- Blue Cone Monochromacy
The versions have been sorted in the same way for all photos so it will be easier for you to see the differences.
Please bare in mind that the versions are automatically rotated so you have to scroll back to the original version to see the differences between the image with normal vision and the various types of color blindness
As you can see above, color blind people see things differently and in my opinion it is good to know the different ways they understand color.
Feel free to leave you comments below.
Neophytos S Neophytou says
Great article Stephanos! Very interesting to read. This article of course is intended for people with normal vision, because for me for ex. I would still see the photos here in a different way than the rest, ????
Great work! It is a very interesting read!
Thank you Neophytos. Much appreciated.
Very interesting article!
Thank you Maria.